Life’s viability has moved with advances

I am writing about Dave Norman’s letter, “Life is not the issue; defining humanity is,” (Herald, July 19). Our humanity is initiated in and defined by life. The science I am familiar with defines human life as beginning at its conception. “Viability” of human life is relative to the environment in which it exists (test tube, womb or medical support apparatus). Viability in the sense of a baby’s survival outside the womb has been a moving target as medicine has advanced.

Is a baby born (or aborted) prematurely not a life because he or she may require temporary medical intervention (breathing support or other life-maintenance aid) to remain alive? Today, many more babies survive than did 50 years ago because of improved medicine. Was a premature child born 50 years ago who did not survive (not “viable”) not a life while one exactly the same age today that did survive is a life? I think not. In today’s miracle world of medicine, viability can be maintained from conception in a test tube through in vitro placement in the uterus to birth – there is no future tense involved or necessary. Norman is correct. Some people don’t want to admit the facts.

Russ Smeds

Las Cruces, N.M.

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